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tv   British House of Commons  CSPAN  March 5, 2012 12:00am-12:30am EST

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income families would lose tax credits were a lie and irresponsible scare mongering. did he mislead the public? >> what we've done is increase tax credits for the lowest paid people in our country and actually lifted over a million low paid people out of income tax altogether by raising the allowance. i think if he's worried about taxation issues, he should have a word with his candidate for the mayor of london, ken livingston, and ask whether he's going to pay his taxes. >> many irish people were moved by what the prime minister said about bloody sunday. with it becoming increasingly clear that euro zone support for ireland is conditional on them saying yes in their referendum, will the prime minister confirm that this country will support ireland whatever it decides? saying yes in the referendum, with a premise to confirm that this country was support ireland, whatever it decides?
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>> we are certainly very good friends of the republic of ireland and the people of the republic of ireland, it is their choice to sign the treaty and it is their choice to have a referendum on the treaty. it should be respected. >> completely agree about this issue and there is all party support both for the leveson
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inquiry which needs to get on with its work and proper support for the police inquiry and it is important to make this point. of course there's always a debate about what is right for newspapers to do to get stories in the public interest, but it is hard to think of any circumstances in which it is right for police officers to take money. >> ed miliband? >> could i thank him for that question. on the leveson inquiry, could i ask him to ensure none of his senior ministers do anything to undermine its work and would he accept that the education secretary was ill judged to say last week that the inquiry was having a chilling effect on freedom of expression. will the prime minister dissociate himself from these comments and urge his colleagues, whatever their closeness to particular newspaper proprietors, not to undermine the leveson inquiry.
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>> i answered this question last week and the education secretary as the rest of the cabinet fully support the leveson inquiry and want the leveson inquiry to proceed with the important work it does, that is the position of the education secretary and the position of the entire government. >> ed miliband. >> i do thank the prime minister for that answer. i do have to remind him that the education secretary said the big picture was that there was a chilling atmosphere towards freedom of expression centering around the debate of leveson. i hope the education secretary will have heard the prime minister's words. let me move on to an area, on sunday, the man who ran the n.h.s. for six years said about the prime minister's bill, and i quote, it's a mess, it's unnecessary, it misses the point, it's confused and confusing and it's setting the n.h.s. back. why does the prime minister believe that with every week that goes by, there are yet more damning indictments of his
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n.h.s. bill? >> let me just make one further point about the leveson inquiry because i think it is important. i think what my right and honorable friend the education secretary was saying and i think what's important for all of us in this house to say is while these inquiries are going on, i do think it's important for politicians who, come on, let's be frank, benefit sometimes when the press are a little less hard hitting than they have been in recent years, it's important for us to say we support a free, vibrant, robust press. important that's an point and that is what he was saying. now, turning to the health reforms, turning to the health reforms, the gentleman said something that i agreed with. he said this, he said, the n.h.s. will have to change because of the rise of the age of the population, because of the rise in the number of long- term conditions, because of the rise in expectations and costs. sounds a bit familiar, mr.
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speaker. he's right it has to reform. the problem for the labour party is they are against both the money that needs to go into the n.h.s. which they say is irresponsible and although they supported competition and choice in the past, they don't support it anymore. >> ed miliband. >> mr. speaker, he seems to have forgotten the question i asked him, it was about nigel crisp who ran the health service for six years, the chief executive are the national health service and says the bill is a mess and confusing. let me ask about somebody who else appeared on the conservative party's platform at the spring conference in 2010. he hosted the health secretary -- he hosted the health secretary's first speech and he advised the labour government, that's true, and he's a g.p. at the head of the clinical commission group in tower hamlet and wrote the prime minister monday and said this, we care deeply about the patients we see every day and we believe the improvements we all
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want to see in the n.h.s. can be achieved without the bureaucracy generated by this bill. they say no but this is a man in charge of a clinical commission group. isn't it time he recognize that he's lost the confidence even of the g.p.'s he says he wants to be at the heart of his reform. >> there are 8,200 g.p. practices covering 95% of the country implementing the health reforms which is what they wanted to happen. he asked me -- he asked me if i will listen to those people who ran the n.h.s. over the last decade. well let me give him a selection of people who ran the n.h.s. in the last decade and what they think of competition. the right competition for the right reasons can drive us to achieve move. this is what john hutton said. he was a health minister under the last government.
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they don't want to listen to labour ministers when they used to win elections. this is what he says. competition can make the n.h.s. more equitable. that is the view of the labour secretary of state. what about an adviser to the last labour government, julian lagrand, who specifically looked at competition and this is what he said. the measured effects of competition have not been trivial. evidence shows that the introduction of competition in the n.h.s. can be credited with saving hundreds of lives. the truth is, he doesn't want to listen to past labour ministers because he's taking a totally opportunistic position in opposition to this bill. >> ed miliband! >> mr. speaker, the reason that 95% of g.p.'s are having to implement part of these changes is because he's imposed them on them and doctor efrington addresses this because he says, your government has interpreted our commitment to our patients as support for the bill.
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it is not. and 98% of the g.p.'s oppose the bill. i have to say, mr. speaker, it's hard to keep track of opposition to this bill because in the last seven days alone, the royal college of physicians have called their first emergency general meeting in their history about the bill, he's lost the support of the british geriatric society and the royal college of pediatric and child health. so every week that goes by, more and more healthcare organizations come out against this bill. i've got a simple question for the prime minister, can he now give the house a list of significant health organizations who are still wholehearted supporters of the bill? >> he specifically said that -- it's very important --
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>> order, the prime minister's been asked a question, let's hear the answer. >> he said that 98% of g.p.'s oppose the reform. that was the figure, 98%. let me give him the actual figures. there are 44,000 members of the royal college of g.p. a total, out of 44,000, just 7% responded opposing the bill. 7%. and what about the royal college of physiotherapists? 50,000, 50,000 royal college of physiotherapists. 2%, 2%! i know that's enough for the unions to elect you leader of the labour party, but that's about as far as it will go. >> ed miliband! >> mr. speaker, they're obviously well trained today, mr. speaker, but let me tell them, let me tell them, their support for the health bill is digging their own burial of the
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next general election. i did ask him a specific question, i know, by now, he doesn't like to answer the questions but i just asked him a simple point which is who supports his bill and an answer came there none from this prime minister. let me refresh his memory as to who opposes this bill. there's no good the deputy prime minister is smirking, i don't know whether he supports the bill or opposes it. he supports it, mr. speaker! there's firm leadership for you, right. now, mr. speaker, let me refresh his memory as to those who want the bill withdrawn. the royal college of g.p.'s, the royal college of nursing, the royal college of midwives, the royal college of
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radiologists, the faculty of public health, the chartered society of physiotherapists, the community practitioners and health visitors association, and the patients association. mr. speaker, doesn't it ever occur to him, mr. speaker -- mr. speaker, doesn't it ever occur to him that just maybe they're right and he's wrong? >> he didn't mention the national association of primary care supporting the bill, the n.h.s. alliance supporting the bill, the association of chief executives of voluntary organizations supporting the bill, the foundation trust network supporting the bill, lord darsi, labour minister, he was the surgeon you hired to run the health service. here we are, four weeks in a row
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of n.h.s. questions but not a single question of substance, not one. all of our process, all of our politics, never about the substance. mr. speaker, we all know it's leap year so maybe just this once i get to and the question. we all know what he's against but isn't it time he told us what on earth he's for? >> thank you, mr. speaker. in my area, there are plans for 120 meter high wind turbines between the beautiful villages which are less than a mile apart. does the prime minister agree that such giant turbines should not be built so close to residential areas without local people having a say? >> we do want to see a balanced energy policy and there is a place for renewable technologies in that energy policy. there are two changes we're making. one is we're cutting the subsidy to on-shore wind because i think
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it's been over subsidized and wasteful of public money and the second thing we're doing, when the localism act fully comes into play, that will give local communities a greater say over issues like wind turbines. we tried to do that earlier by abolishing the strategies the last government put in place but we need the localism act to come into force in full. >> mr. speaker, the prime minister answered the questions with a little more abuse than he want have wanted but does he recognize there are 200 in his own constituencies, 600 couples in my constituency, who will lose working tax credits, 3,000 pounds and more, 25% of their income. can he say how will he answer those couples and their children? >> the point that the right old gentleman knows, we have had to
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make difficult decisions because of the enormous debt and deficit we inherited. in taking those decisions, we protected the purest -- poorest families. we've also helped the poorest in work by lifting a million people out of income tax. the question has to come back to labour. you left us with this mess, what would you do about it? >> mr. richard graham. >> mr. speaker, this summer, in my constituency, gloucester, as everywhere around the country, people will look forward with huge excitement to the start of the olympic games, a great opportunity to celebrate how let u.k. manages these great global events but not everybody sees it as that sort of an opportunity. the general secretary of unite sees it as an opportunity for general strike. does the prime minister agree with me that nothing could be further from the spirit of the olympics and more damaging to the reputation of our country. >> thank you, mr. speaker.
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i think my honorable friend speaks for the country when he says that what the general secretary of unite said and let me quote it directly. he said, i'm calling upon the general public to engage in civil disobedience. that is what he said. and let us remember, unite is the biggest single donor to the party opposite and had more role than anybody else in putting the right honorable gentleman in his place. they need to condemn this utterly and start turning back the money. >> mr. speaker, no top-down reorganization of the n.h.s., no reduction in front-line police officers and no cuts to tax credits for low-income families. why does the prime minister find it so hard to keep his promises to the british public? >> we promised to increase spending on the n.h.s.
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we're boosting spending on the n.h.s. we promised a cancer drugs fund and 10,000 people have extra drugs through that fund. we promised we'd have doctors growing faster than the number of bureaucrats and since the election the number of doctors is up by 4,000 and the number of bureaucrats is down by 5,000. that's what coalition policy is doing for our health service. >> mr. jackson. >> the prime minister close the loophole for multinational companies that allows the migrant cap to be flouted using intercompany transfers or is there another immigration policy that will fall victim to the curse. >> my honorable friend is being unfair. we have a tough migrant cap for migrant workers.
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business said how important was to have intercompany transfers but only at relatively high salary levels. that is what we put in place and i think that demonstrates that over time we will control immigration and do so in a way that doesn't damage business. >> we now know that the government was made aware of fraud allegations before the prime minister appointed that company's chairman as his family czar. the prime minister is in danger of requiring the reputation for ill judged personal appointments, will he tell the house what independent checks he believes should be carried out before such appointments are made and whether such checks were carried out with respect to emma harrison. >> first of all, let me be absolutely clear, i was not aware of any allegations when emma harrison became an adviser to the government on troubled families and there were no formative investigations into her company, just the company's own probe into irregularities. i think this issue needs to be properly dealt with. i'm concerned that subsequent to emma harrison's appointment, information needed to be passed up the line more rapidly to ministers. i've asked the cabinet secretary
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to review the guidelines for this across government and into this particular case but i have to say when he talks about the horse having bolted, he perhaps might want to put into his question, might want to put into his question that emma harrison was given a c.b.e. by the last government and of course all of the allegations that are being made are all in the contract that his government handed out. >> dr. sarah wallaceton. >> does the prime minister join me in paying tribute to the courage of photographer paul conroy who was injured showing the world the horrors of the syrian regime and join me in thanking all those who helped to capture him safely. >> it is important the role the media do in being in incredibly difficult places like syria and homs to bring the truth to the news and that's what conroy was doing.
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i certainly pay tribute to him and also she says, above all, pay tribute to the very brave people who helped to get him out of syria, many of whom have paid an incredibly high price. i can tell the house that paul conroy is now safe. ins been in our embassy beirut, in lebanon, and properly looked after. >> sheila gilmore. >> last october, the chancellor announced a new policy called credit easing. can the prime minister tell us how many businesses have been helped? >> at the time of the autumn statement, the policy would be in place at the time for the budget and that's exactly what's going to happen. >> order! let's hear mr. peter alders. >> thank you, mr. speaker.
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high streets across the country including those in my constituency are facing tough trading conditions at present including the prospect of a 5.6% increase in business rates. can the prime minister outline what the government are doing to support traders to enable them to grow their businesses and create jobs? >> i think the honorable gentleman is right to raise this issue. there are real concerns about the hollowing out of some of our high streets and the number of empty properties. we've doubled small business rate relief scheme, helped an estimated 330,000 small firms. we're removing legal red tape requiring rate payers to fill in paperwork to claim that relief which is something labour refused to do while in office but also we have a plan for how to try to reinvigorate our high streets. >> mr. dodds. >> the prime minister may have seen the headlines in the newspapers today that the
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happiest people live in northern ireland. and as the major party of government for the last five years in northern ireland, we are not surprised by that. one thing that overshadowed that happiness is the high and escalating price of petrol and diesel which is the highest not only in the united kingdom but the highest in the european union. can the prime minister bring happiness to all parts of the united kingdom by agreeing to do away with the august fuel tax rise increase on reduced fuel allowances as soon as possible? >> well, i'm delighted to hear that the people of northern ireland are the happiest of the united kingdom. i have to say that their representatives in this house don't always give that impression. but maybe i've been missing something.
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we recognize that families and businesses are continuing to feel the pressure from very high prices. we cut fuel duty and scrap the automatic fuel duty stabilizer that has been average pump prices 6 pence lower than they would have been under the previous government's plan but clearly we're impacted by higher oil prices. >> this week, the government took action on unacceptable tax avoidance. does the prime minister agree with me that the principles of paying a fair share of tax should apply to both banks and former mayors of london? >> i think my honorable friend makes an important point, whether it is barkley's bank or ken livingston, people should pay the proper amount of tax and i hope hmrc will look closely at all these cases. frankly, for londoners, many who live in labour controlled areas with high taxes will be angry about what they have seen and will conclude that red can has been caught red handed.
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>> the i.f.s. has reported that the government's tax and benefit changes will hit families with children five times higher than those without children. is this what the prime minister means by the most family friendly government ever? is it fair or is it just another broken promise? >> what this government's done is increase tax credits for the least well paid to lift people out of tax, to introduce free nursery care for 2, 3 and 4- year-olds and expand it for those families. all those things have made a difference. incidentally, she didn't mention that she, herself, is sponsored by the unite union and could have taken this opportunity to condemn. >> thank you, mr. speaker. >> order! let's hear mr. metcalfe. mr. metcalfe.
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>> over work experience, has my right honorable friend had any businesses or organizations come ford support this vitally important and publicly popular initiative that will help young people get the skills they need to get into work? >> i think my honorable friend is entirely right. i think the whole country wants to see more young people given the opportunity that work experience provides and the good news is, since this row has been going on in the pages of our newspapers, we've had expressions of interest from 200 small and medium sized employers who want to get involved in this program and i think it's time for businesses in britain and everyone in britain who wants to see people have work experience stand upagainst the trotsky-ites of the right-to-work campaign and recognize the deafening silence we've had from the party opposite. >> happily, mr. speaker, i am able to welcome the prime minister's commitment to the
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reform of the european convention on human rights on the part of the european court on human rights. will the prime minister give a commitment to allow this house a proffer whenever the brighton declaration is published and will he ensure the principle of subsidiary is respected and the british courts have a proper say in what goes on in this country? >> i do want to see the principle of subsidiary get a fairer hearing at strausburg. that was what was contained in the speech i made about the reform of the court so it doesn't become a court of the fourth instance where somebody's already been in front of a local court, court of people, supreme court and then the human rights court. we have the back bench committee and perhaps they will go over time -- not enough, i hear -- they've got more than enough in my view and can make over a day for that debate. >> sir robert smith? >> does the prime minister
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agree that one of the best ways to deliver on our commitment to the fairness agenda is to go ahead as quickly as possible in implementing the coalition agreement to raise the tax threshold 10,000 pounds? >> the coalition agreement commits us to is real increases in that threshold. we've achieved that in budgets over the last two years in spite of the difficult conditions we face in the economy. i do think it's a good idea to lift people out of tax. it particularly helped low paid people and low paid women. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the ministry of defense is buying tankers from south korea when the work can be done here. the minister of defense says, and i quote, it will not consider employment, industrial and economic factors in procurement.
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why won't the prime minister stand up for world class british industry? >> i do stand up for world class british industry and i'm very happy to have british aerospace, rolls-royce, on an airplane with me promoting british companies but i get attacked by the labour party. >> thank you, mr. speaker. is the prime minister aware of the tragic death of my constituent penny hegerty. her husband believes her death is one example of systemic management failures at the university hospitals. will the prime minister ensure dr. hegerty and my constituents that recent work to improve the management will continue and this trust will be turned around? >> i can certainly give me honorable friend that assurance but first of all, i'm sure the whole house will want to send the deepest condolences to the husband and family of the honorable member's constituent, penny hegerty.
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clearly, patients have the right to expect far better standards of care. i know that the cqc and monitor have raised concerns about standards at the trust. as he says, it is being turned around, about that work needs to be undertaken with all speed. >> speaker, grim brown, director of shelter in scotland described the proposal for bedroom tax as grossly unfair and shows the u.k. government failing to listen to the voice of reason brought forward by professionals, m.h.p.'s and individuals. does the prime minister accept widows and widowers left in their family home when children leave on low income can lose up to 25% of benefit support if he continues. is he just unfeeling or determined to get his way? >> the issue is this, we desperately need to reform housing benefits. if we hadn't done anything about
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housing benefit, it was expected to cost over 24 billion pounds a year. as his own welfare spokesman, the member birmingham said, would scarcely believe housing benefit alone is costing the u.k. over 20 billion a year. that's too high. i'm getting slightly frustrated with these statements in principle of reform. they said they're in favor of a benefit cap but vote against it. they say they're in favor of welfare reform, they opposed it. they recognize housing benefits are out of control but every attempt to deal with it, they frustrate it. >> mr. speaker, on this leap day when shy men throughout the country will be nervously hoping their girlfriends might make a commitment, can i ask the prime minister to give romance a nudge.

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